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Framed Vs. Frameless Glass Shower Doors: Which Is Best?

Buying a glass shower door for the first time, or finally updating your old unit can be exciting. A new shower door has the power to completely change the look of your bathroom, making it one of the most affordable and effective bathroom upgrades for homeowners on a budget. But it’s a big decision and there are many shower door options to choose from.

For your shower remodeling project you can choose from a wide variety of styles and designs, including framed, semi-frameless, or frameless doors. Each type of door has its own advantages and disadvantages. After learning more about what each door has to offer, you can make an informed decision and choose the perfect style for your bathroom.

Framed Vs. Frameless Glass Shower Doors: Which is Best for Your Bathroom Remodel?

The best type of shower door for your bathroom will depend on many factors including = style preference, existing bathroom decor, shower space, budget, and bathroom layout.


Currently, the most popular options include:

  • Frameless
  • Framed
  • Semi-frameless

Frameless Shower Doors

Frameless shower doors consist of unframed thick sheets of tempered glass and minimal hardware. Buyers can choose from different types of glass, including clear, frosted, etched, rain glass, and more, in addition to door style and entry point type. This level of customization is just one of the reasons why these doors remain the most popular option on the market.

While the design is frameless, some metal is still used, such as hinges, clips, and handles.

Framed Glass Shower Doors

This shower door style is built with a bulky metal frame made from aluminum with panels of tempered glass. Traditional shower doors have thinner glass since the heavy-duty frame can support and protect the glass.

Semi-Frameless

A semi-frameless shower door enclosure  features unframed and framed tempered glass panels. The enclosure is bordered by strips of aluminum, while the door panels are frameless. The tempered glass used is slightly thicker than what you’ll find on a framed shower door.

Difference In Cost

Frameless doors tend to be the most expensive option, with semi-frameless taking second place and framed shower doors earning third. Frameless shower doors are pricier than the other two types of doors due to the many customization options available, the thicker glass, and the delicate installation process.

Difference In Materials

Tempered glass is used for each type of shower door, however, with semi-frameless shower doors and framed, aluminum is also used. In terms of glass thickness, frameless shower door glass is thicker since thicker glass improves stability and durability. Most frameless door glass is ⅜” to ½” thick, while semi-frameless glass thickness ranges from 3/16” to ¼”. Framed shower door glass is available in a wide range of thicknesses including 3/16” up to ½ inch.

Differences in Installation Requirements

Frameless shower door fabrication and installation requires the skills of an experienced glass company, due to the complex, delicate installation process. Semi-frameless and framed shower doors and enclosures are somewhat easier to install, thanks to the protective frames and the lighter glass used.

Frameless shower doors must also be mounted to a wall. It’s important that the wall chosen for mounting the glass panel is able to handle the added weight of the doors. A wall with a minimum of two studs is ideal. Both semi-frameless and framed shower doors offer a simpler, faster installation process in comparison.

Difference in Maintenance

Framed shower doors require the most maintenance since the door’s track is a magnet for mold, bacteria, and fungi. Semi-frameless and frameless shower doors do not require quite as much maintenance, however, the glass tends to show more streaks, fingerprints, and water spots, which is why it’s important to get into the habit of using a squeegee to wipe down the glass after every shower.

Pros of Frameless Glass Shower Doors

Frameless glass shower doors offer an affordable way to instantly update the look of your bathroom. Bathrooms are the second most expensive room in the home to remodel, but with this type of simple upgrade, you can enjoy an elegant, modern bathroom for a fraction of the cost of a total bathroom remodel.

Minimalist Design

Frameless shower doors and enclosures create a visual continuity between the enclosure and the rest of the bathroom. This makes the bathroom appear larger and more open. The shower door’s lack of a frame, the clean lines, minimal hardware, and customizable design, can create a modern space in your home that gives your bathroom a spa-like feel.

Fully Customizable

Frameless shower doors are available in a variety of styles, designs and finishes. Buyers can choose glass type, hardware type, entry style, and more.

Easy to Keep Clean

With no bulky metal track to clean, maintaining the door’s flawless appearance is simple. This type of shower door needs a wipe down with a squeegee after each shower and a deep clean as needed or a couple of times a month.

Cons of Frameless Shower Doors

While frameless shower doors remain one of the most popular styles due to their elegant, modern design, these doors do have some drawbacks.

Requires Sturdier Glass

Because these doors lack a frame, which is what provides stability and improves durability for semi frameless and framed shower doors, frameless glass doors must be made out of thicker, sturdier glass. Glass thickness is typically ⅜ inch or ½” inch. Thicker glass can increase the total cost of the door.

Gaps

Gaps between the glass panels and the shower wall can cause a host of issues and can lead to water damage. However, if you choose an experienced glass company with a reputation for creating high-quality custom glass doors and enclosures, you should have no issue with gaps or leaks.

Must Be Installed By an Experienced Professional

Frameless glass shower doors are known for their complicated installation. The door and enclosure must be mounted to a wall, so the wall must be able to take the additional weight of the doors. A professional installer can assess your shower space and bathroom to determine whether a frameless shower door will be the best option.

Frameless or Semi-Frameless: Which Is Better?

Semi-frameless shower doors offer the best of both worlds with framed glass edges and frameless edges. While it features a more modern look compared to a framed model, the semi-frameless style lacks the modern appeal that frameless shower doors offer. The frameless shower door’s lack of a bulky metal frame instantly opens up smaller spaces, giving your bathroom a more spacious appearance. Semi-frameless shower doors and enclosures do feature some frameless edges, but the partial frame ruins the illusion of a bigger space. Like a traditional framed door, a semi-frameless shower door can also block important sight-lines, preventing you from showing off the beautiful tile-work in your shower.
If you’re looking for a shower door and enclosure that can totally change the look of your bathroom, open up a smaller space, and one that features a low maintenance design, frameless shower doors can check all of the boxes.

Contact GCS Glass & Mirror For Custom Glass Door Installation

The main appeal of other types of shower doors is cost. Custom frameless shower doors may come with a higher price tag, but they also add value to your home, which makes the door an important investment, especially if you plan to sell your home later down the line. Additionally, they offer a more affordable way to upgrade your bathroom. But because of the door’s difficult installation, you must hire a reputable shower door company to ensure the door fits perfectly and works well for your unique shower space.

At GCS Glass and Mirror, we can create a beautiful custom frameless glass shower door and enclosure that will work for your bathroom’s layout, your style, and your budget. We can meet with you to discuss your shower needs, take accurate measurements of your shower space and bathroom layout, and go over design options that will work for your bathroom and your budget. Contact the team at GCS Glass and Mirror today to get a free quote.